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Mayor Jacobs' proposed budget includes 6% deputy raises, school system funding, no tax increase

Knox County's proposed budget is nearly $1 billion, a reflection of steady revenue growth in recent years.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs' proposed nearly $1 billion budget for the coming year includes 6% raises for most sheriff's officers, ponders no tax increase and endorses the school system's hefty spending plan.

The mayor's $954 million proposed budget, which must be approved by Knox County Commission this spring, would also give general county employees a 4% pay increase.

The 2022-23 spending plan is $60.5 million higher than the current $893.5 million budget, county figures show.

The Knox County Schools budget represents about two-thirds of the overall Knox County annual budget. This year, KCS's budget, as requested and recently endorsed by the Knox County Board of Education, is about $591 million, up from $542 million. Jacobs' proposed budget incorporates the school system plan into his overall budget.

Jacobs presented his proposed budget during a luncheon at Tommy Schumpert Park, 6400 Fountain City Road. The event was open to the public and livestreamed.

Thursday's luncheon featured a handful of past county mayors and county executives, including Dwight Kessel, who is in his 90s and served during the 1990s.

The new 2022-23 budget, after adoption by County Commission, takes effect July 1.

Highlights of the new Jacobs budget:

*With the mayor's proposed boost for sheriff's personnel, the starting pay for a patrolman would go to $44,300. Currently, it's just shy of $40,000, according to Knox County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kimberly Glenn.

KCSO uniformed personnel with a rank of captain or below would get a 6 percent raise if they're on what's called the UOPP pension plan. Personnel who are on the newer Sheriff's Total Accumulation Retirement plan, or STAR, would have the ability to divert 6% of the county's annual retirement contribution toward their salary. There are about 350 sheriff's personnel on the STAR plan, according to Chris Caldwell, the county's chief financial officer. STAR took effect for hires starting in 2014.

  • Jacobs foresees hiring roughly a handful of new employees including two for the medical examiner's office and three for the Engineering & Public Works Department.
  • The county and Knox County Schools are benefiting from a bump in sales tax collections. Local option sales taxes are expected to be about $46 million higher for the coming fiscal year. About 72 percent of sales tax collections go to the school system. County property tax collections also are expected to be up -- by about $7 million for the coming fiscal year.
  • Revenue from holding inmates and from court collections are down about $3 million. The decrease is offset by revenue growth elsewhere.
  • The county foresees building a new engineering and public works facility that would be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act money -- not part of the routine county budget, Caldwell said.
  • The proposed capital budget, which focuses on building and infrastructure projects, is about $81 million for the coming year and includes $11 million for a Hardin Valley Academy addition and $3 million for Farragut Elementary. It also continues funding by setting aside $5 million to the overall $21 million Schaad Road expansion project, located in the busy, growing northwestern area of the county.
  • County debt is going up under the current five-year capital plan by about $65 million to about $750 million because of school construction projects to address growth and improvements to current school buildings. The county issues bonds to pay for construction projects. Non-school county debt has been decreasing, figures show.

Knox County government pays its bills primarily from the collection of sales tax and property taxes. It's been years since the county sought and got a boost in the property tax rate.

Jacobs, a Republican, is finishing a four-year term. He's running for reelection.

In August, he'll face Democratic challenger Debbie Helsley. County mayors are limited to two consecutive terms.